Like many of the young musicians in reggae today, Tarrus Riley is a second generation reggae musician. His father, Jimmy Riley, has been active in the industry for close to 50 years now and released his own album, Contradictions, just last year. The track “Ruff Seas” from the VP released compilation featured the young Riley performing alongside his dad.
Since first emerging on the reggae scene in 2004, Tarrus Riley has already released six albums and garnered critical acclaim. His latest release may come off as lackluster to some but the musician nonetheless serves up some great music for his fans and reggae enthusiasts.
Like the album’s title suggests, Love Situation bears a central theme of love -- a recurring subject in the artistic world to which Riley adds his own perspective with noted success.
Riley is featured in his mastered element on the album, donning his characteristic rocksteady cape even in songs like “To The Limit Remix” which features dancehall powerhouse Konshens. Konshens’ deejaying stands out against the horn embellished reggae backdrop which also carries a distinct jazz impression.
The album’s jazz influence is subtle but appears inspired in songs like “Cry No More”. The track features long time Jamaican saxophonist, Dean Fraser, at his finest.
Fraser and Riley have a long history together in music. Fraser produced the singer’s first album, Challenges, along with most of the tracks on Riley’s second album, Parables.
“Cum Get Your Ish” presents an alternative, albeit bitter, interpretation of the love theme and adds to the album’s overall diversity. “Version of Love (My Story)” highlights the heartache that sometimes comes with love and Riley gives one of his most soulful renditions.
In a way there are two stories being told on the album. Love Situation goes beyond the intimate-love dynamic that many of the songs portray to chronicle Riley’s flourishing love affair with reggae music.
“Gimme Likkle One Drop” is one of Riley’s more popular tunes and the “One Drop Remix” featured on the album borrows from the original as Riley reaffirms his passion for the sound. The song is reminiscent of Bob Marley’s “One Drop” which exemplifies the popular reggae sound but Riley keeps the social commentary at a minimum and focuses mainly on the music.
The ska themed “Sail Away (Stepping Out)” which features U Roy is the album’s final song but Riley leaves listeners with some mulling material on the outro, aptly titled “Food for Thought”.